Friday, May 2, 2008

Day Nine!

Today we headed out for a full day visiting Gettysburg National Military Park. As I'm sure you know, Gettysburg was the location of one of the most significant battles in the Civil War. In 1864, steps began to preserve the historic battlefield as a memorial to those who fought there. In 1895, the property was transferred to the Federal Government and Gettysburg National Military Park was established. I didn't know much about this place, or the Civil War for that matter. However, I can still recite a portion of The Gettysburg Address from grammar school days ("Four score and seven years ago...), but I never put that much thought to it's significance at that age! So, I was excited to get to visit this important site.

It took about 2 ½ hours to get there – well, perhaps a little longer than that because "Ursula" (our nickname for the GPS lady) took us on a very interesting route! It was kind of like “over the hills and through the woods..." Anyways, it was a beautiful drive through rural Pennsylvania so we didn’t mind the time on the road.

We were quite fortunate to visit Gettysburg when we did. Just THE DAY BEFORE, the National Park Service opened a brand new, huge $125 million dollar Visitor's Center! What timing, huh? It was very large and beautiful and totally Smithsonian quality. There was a wonderful movie, to help even the most pathetic history student (read: me) understand the Civil War. There were artifacts galore from the Civil War including guns, clothing, furniture, journals, etc. And there was also a large and very nice bookstore/gift shop. We had gotten a superb tip from our friends, Gene and Brenda, about utilizing a CD to guide us as we drove through the battlefields. We were able to purchase that at the gift shop there, and it guided us through 18 or so stops along the way. At each stop you are able to listen to what took place on that site, and learn interesting information about the battles and the people involved.

Brand new visitor center

So new, the landscape wasn't in yet (unless this is it?)

We had lunch at the cafeteria - pretty good fare.

Fireplace in cafeteria that we dined in front of

Our tour of he battlefield took a couple of hours, but we got out a few times to look around and take some pictures. There are many beautiful monuments and vast views of green fields, landscape, and old houses. There was even a barn still standing that had a hole in it where a cannon ball went through! (see photo) It was fascinating to learn more about the Civil War, and I tell you nothing makes history come alive more than actually being where it happened. Visiting Gettysburg is highly recommended.

Civil War cannon

View from high point

One of many statues
What a lot of the battlefield looks like
Wishing I lived here! I love this pic.
Barn with cannon ball hole (in brick part)

Nice b&w shot

Pennyslvania state monument -humongous!

Well, Gettysburg took most of the day, and we were now ready for dinner and to make the trek back to Philly. We were delighted to spot a Cracker Barrel restaurant right off the freeway not too far from Gettysburg. Have y’all been to a Cracker Barrel? You gotta say “y’all” because there is a large concentration of Cracker Barrels in the south. Rich and I went to one for the first time in Nashville, Tennessee many years ago, and our kids stopped at one on the way to church summer camp in Albuquerque. It’s just a great family kind of place. It’s got cute country décor, a great gift shop, and inexpensive home cookin’. They might just have the BEST biscuits on the face of this earth. And their fried apples are to die for as well. They have a huge menu and everything is comforting and homey. We were happy campers!
You know you're at Cracker Barrel when you see the rockers...

I drove the rest of the way back to Philly while Rich slept. He told me to drive for an hour on a certain highway and then wake him up, and to ignore anything "Ursula" said to do in the meantime! I really enjoyed the drive. Everyone is so much calmer on the road than in L.A. and the sights are all new. Plus, I was really digging the Ford Explorer we rented! There was a point when I was driving when there was literally NO other cars on the freeway with me. Well, we finally got back to Philly after a full and wonderful day and conked out! Only one more day to go before heading back to New York...

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